An economic survey conducted recently revealed that West Bengal lagged far behind other states on several crucial health development indices because of its non-implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).
The survey, tabled in Parliament on Friday, compared Bengal with three of its neighbouring states, Bihar, Assam and Sikkim which had similar socio-economic to Bengal and has implemented the Centre’s flagship health scheme.
According to the report, households that had health insurance increased in Bihar, Assam and Sikkim from 2015-16 to 2019-20 by 89% but it decreased by 12% over the same period in Bengal.
West Bengal also witnessed a fall of 20% in its under-5 mortality rate, while the other states witnessed a 27% reduction. The neighbouring states thus witnessed 7-8% greater reduction in these health outcomes, the report pointed out.
As per the report, methods of contraception, female sterilisation and pill usage went up by 36%, 22% and 28% respectively in the three states while the changes for Bengal were negligible.
Various metrics for mother and child care improved more in these states than in Bengal, stressed the report, without specifying how these indices are linked with the health insurance scheme.
The PMJAY was adopted by Bengal but later withdrawn in 2019. The outage was regarding the branding of the scheme. The West Bengal government felt that given the 60:40 partnership in the scheme, the state government should have got similar space on documents. They even objectified to the name given to the scheme.
In a letter dated January 10, in which it informed the Centre about its withdrawal, the West Bengal government went on to call the scheme Jan Arogya Yojana rather than Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.